Gear Review: The Best Winter Running Shoes I’ve Ever Had

best winter running shoes

My new Altra Lone Peak NeoShell trail runners are the best winter running shoes I’ve ever had.

OK so I’ve not used every shoe out there. And the Lone Peak isn’t billed as a winter shoe. But I’ve been running all winter long in Minnesota for seven or eight years now, and I’m telling you, this one works.

Why I Love Them

They’re Waterproof

This is my #1 requirement for winter shoes. And it’s surprisingly hard to find a running shoe that’s waterproof. I’m not sure why that isn’t a given for trail shoes—at least as an option. But apparently not.

The brand I’ve worn for several years (Asics) used to sell a Gortex trail shoe. But now they don’t even have a water-resistant shoe, much less waterproof. So I’ve been shopping around.

This one works. The week I got them I went for a run in the rain and my feet stayed dry. I did it again just to be sure, and they stayed dry again. Yay!

Wet feet in the summer? Not that big of a deal. In a Minnesota winter? A big deal.

These shoes don’t just keep out the wet, but the wind too. Also a big deal.

best winter running shoes

The “Magic” Outsole

See the bottom of that shoe? There’s no snow packed in it. That’s a big deal too!

I don’t know what kind of rubber these are made of (Altra calls this outsole their Sticky-Rubber TrailClaw™), but it’s awesome.

On my test run this morning, we had fresh snow with 33 degrees. That means wet and sticky. In years past I hated these conditions because of the ice balls that would develop in the tread of my shoes, and the constant slip-and-slide on the roads.

As you can see from the photo above—no ice balls, no snow packed in there. I kept checking them through the whole run, and nothing. No slipping and sliding either. An unexpected “wahoo!”

And it gets better. A couple weeks ago I was wearing these and accidentally walked through a bunch of dog doo in the backyard. I left the shoes out in the garage to clean off later. When I went back to them, all the crud had already dried and fallen right off. Another “wahoo!”

Can you tell I’m a little excited about these shoes?

They’re Surprisingly Warm

Combined with wool socks, these shoes are surprisingly warm, even when walking during the winter. Their waterproof feature also makes them windproof, which is huge.

My feet are usually cold the first mile or so, but after that are fine, even on sub-zero and single-digit days.

The Wide Toe Box

This is one of benefits of all Altra shoes. They work great for me because of bunions and mild arthritis. I noticed on the website reviews a few users say these are narrower than other Altra shoes. But they fit me just fine.

What’s Not to Love?

Zero-Drop Feature

Not that there’s anything wrong with it. Altra says ZeroDrop means a more natural, low-impact stride. I’m not arguing with that. So far I haven’t been able to tell much of a difference. 

The disadvantage is we can’t be switching back-and-forth between Altra and “normal” running shoes (where the heel is higher than the forefoot) because there’s an adjust period needed. Whether that’s a big deal is personal.

best winter running shoes

No Color Choices

Again, whether this is a big deal is personal. This lime green happens to match my running jacket, so no prob for me.


These babies retail for $150. That’s a pricey running shoe!

Where to Buy

From They offer a 30-day no-questions-asked guarantee (replace or exchange—not money back). Free shipping with every order. When you get to their site, do a search for “Lone Peak Neo” for the newest model.

I bought mine from because I got a great discount (I’m a VIP member with them). They have an even better guarantee—90 days love-’em-or-exchange-’em.

The Final Word

I hope these become a permanent fixture in the Altra trail runner line. I’ll keep buying them if they do.

(2020 update) I hadn’t bought a pair of these for a couple years, then looked at some of the reviews of the newer models. Buyers complained that the fit was different with new models and they didn’t like them as well.

They also said the shoes aren’t made from the same outer material anymore, but rely on a “sock” liner for its waterproofing…which some users aren’t a fan of.

I’m not running anymore, so I don’t need another pair, necessarily. I decided not to bargain with a new fit and so haven’t replaced mine.

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